“Private Life Was Completely Transformed in the Nineteenth Century”

(p. 448) Private life was completely transformed in the nineteenth century – socially, intellectually, technologically, hygienically, sartorially, sexually and in almost any other respect that could be made into an adverb. Mr Marsham was born (in 1822) into a world that was still essentially medieval – a place of candlelight, medicinal leeches, travel at walking pace, news from afar that was always weeks or months old – and lived to see the introduction of one marvel after another: steamships and speeding trains, telegraphy, photography, anaesthesia, indoor plumbing, gas lighting, antisepsis in medicine, refrigeration, telephones, electric lights, recorded music, cars and planes, skyscrapers, motion pictures, radio, and literally tens of thousands of tiny things more, from mass-produced bars of soap to push-along lawnmowers.
It is almost impossible to conceive just how much radical day-to-day change people were exposed to in the nineteenth century, particularly in the second half. Even something as elemental as the weekend was brand new.

Bryson, Bill. At Home: A Short History of Private Life. New York: Doubleday, 2010.

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